Transportation funding deal looks unlikely

MnDOT

So what’s the compromise, exactly? Doing nothing? MPR’s Tom Scheck says, “With a week left to go in Minnesota’s legislative session, the prospects for a major transportation funding plan may be dimming. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said he’s willing to drop his push for a transportation funding bill that relies on a gas tax and a sales tax throughout the Twin-Cities metro area. But Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he would only step away from his focus on transportation if House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, drops his push for $2 billion in tax cuts.”

Exhibit ‘A’ of the nothing option.  In a Strib commentary, DFL Sen. Matt Schmit writes, “Communities across Minnesota have been pleading for a renewed, if not expanded, state effort toward extending high-speed Internet access. But this Legislature doesn’t appear to be receiving the message. By now, we all know the facts: Twenty percent of Minnesota homes lack wireline broadband at our modest state speed goal of 10 megabits per second (mbps) for downloads and 5 mbps for uploads. Nearly 40 percent of homes in Greater Minnesota miss the mark. … this Legislature isn’t taking the challenge seriously. Instead, the Senate is proposing a 15 percent cut to the matching-grant program; the House proposes a 60 percent cut. Minnesota didn’t make a big splash by allocating significant resources to its fund; after all, New York devoted $500 million to its upstate effort. Instead, we settled for building the fund slowly — but now even that approach appears in doubt.” Remind me, which party was claiming to be the champion of outstate? Neither?

I don’t believe ticks count as an “invasive species.” The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram alerts readers that, “Results of the first year of a three-year study of ticks at two popular Eau Claire County parks show visitors should be wary. Interns started checking ticks in late May of 2014. Of the 68 ticks at Big Falls County Park from last spring to fall, 46 percent were found to carry Lyme disease. Shane Sanderson, environmental health director for the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, who is coordinating the study, said he didn’t expect that many ticks.”

Thank you all for your generosity. The Strib story, by Ricardo Lopez, on April’s tax haul, says, “Net Minnesota tax collections were $2.47 billion in April, up nearly 12 percent from officials’ projections in February, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office (MMB) reported Monday. Revenues collected from individual income taxes, exceeded expectations, generating $1.85 billion, about $265 million more than previously forecast. Revenue from corporate franchise taxes were down $13 million from previous projections.”

A story from the Forum News Service: “Two women are dead after being consumed in a hog barn fire near Jasper in southwest Minnesota on Monday morning. Sharla Drew, 50, and Kristy Giesler, 32, both of Jasper, died when a barn the two were inside caught on fire. A statement from the Rock County sheriff’s office said employees of the farm were pressure-washing inside the barn when the fire started.”

I’m half expecting Ford to bring back the Excursion. Says Adam Belz of the Strib, “Big vehicles are back in the driver’s seat at Minnesota auto dealerships. Vehicle sales in Minnesota rose a modest 4.6 percent in 2014 after a strong 2013 and lower gas prices shaped the market. Sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles jumped solidly, while sales of cars, including hybrids, dropped. ‘Our Focus sales are off and our trucking and SUV sales are up,’ said Chuck Emick, director of sales and finance at Inver Grove Ford-Lincoln. Across the state, nearly seven in ten new vehicles sold in 2014 was a truck or SUV.” It’ll be quite the glut on the used car market when oil bounces back to $110 a barrel.

Progress, maybe not. Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says, “Authority over a decades-old agreement that allows college students from Minnesota and Wisconsin to avoid paying nonresident tuition when they cross the border to attend a public school is up for grabs Tuesday in the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. At stake is who has authority to continue negotiating with Minnesota the terms of the reciprocity agreement, and who gets roughly $5.8 million netted by Wisconsin after payments are exchanged between the two states. If the UW System gained authority to negotiate with Minnesota and administer the agreement, it potentially could keep that money on campuses that educate the Minnesota students.” Naturally, Gov. Walker has a big hand in this.

The Strib editorial board amuses itself with polling via the conservative Center of the American Experiment. “A majority of Minnesotans don’t want to pay higher gas taxes, the Minneapolis-based, right-leaning Center of the American Experiment announced last week as it trumpeted the results of an April 26-28 poll of 500 Minnesotans. We’re not surprised. When asked whether they want to pay more taxes for any purpose, most people’s knee-jerk response is ‘no.’ In fact, it’s remarkable that 29 percent of those polled said yes to a higher gas tax, given that the question asked by pollster Meeting Street Research advised respondents that some Minnesota legislators say existing taxes are sufficient to do the transportation job. Independent experts say they aren’t, but that assessment was not shared with those polled.” What do trial lawyers always say? “Never ask a question if you don’t know the answer.”

According to the Strib’s Mark Brunswickthe VA can’t even do itself a favor.  “Two VA Inspector General reports involving complaints about Minnesota facilities were part of a large number of investigative results recently made public by the VA. The state cases involved St. Cloud and Rochester. In one case, a 2011 complaint about the St. Cloud’s PTSD program was administratively closed. In the second, a 2013 report found that a complaint about safety and management issues at a Rochester community clinic were unfounded and any issues had been correctly addressed. In both cases, the VA facilities were largely cleared of any wrongdoing, and that would normally be seen as a good thing. But both reports weren’t released until USA Today reported that the VA’s Office of Inspector General had not made public the findings of as many as 140 health care probes since 2006.”

A partisan election bill? I could not be more shocked! Don Davis for the Forum News Service says, “Minnesota senators debated election legislation Monday like they debate issues during campaigns: dividing along party lines. The Democrat-controlled Senate approved 39-28 a bill to allow mail balloting in small cities and townships, expand voting before Election Day and let felons vote once released from prison.”

Today in entrepreneurship. Bill Catlin at MPR reports, “A federal grand jury in Ohio has indicted a Minnesota company and three California men alleging they ran what prosecutors call a ‘massive prescription drug diversion scheme.’ According to the charges, from 2007 through April 2014, David Miller and his company, Minnesota Independent Cooperative (MIC) in Eagan, bought prescription drugs from a network of illegal and unlicensed sources in New York, Florida and California. The 12-count indictment accuses Miller and MIC of Transportation to wholesalers and retail pharmacies in nearly 40 states.”

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 05/12/2015 - 07:44 am.

    You read it here first, folks

    “It’ll be quite the glut on the used car market when oil bounces back to $110 a barrel.”

    Honestly, folks, when will you ever learn? At least some of those bigger vehicles can run on E85 or biodiesel.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/12/2015 - 07:59 am.

    Polls on taxes

    This is no different than the poll results we see frequently that say “most Americans are in favor of higher taxes on the rich.” Who wudda thunk it.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/12/2015 - 08:48 am.

    So Our Republican House Members

    think they’re going to shut down the government, again,…

    or they’re going to end up with ZERO funding for roads and bridges,…

    even those in the most desperate need of repair,…

    because the Democrats were demanding that the citizens of Minnesota actually behave like responsible adults by making blessedly well sure we could PAY for those needed repairs,…

    without doing serious damage to our future,…

    and they think their rural constituents are stupid enough to believe that the Republican plan,…

    akin to mortgaging the entire farm in order to pay for razing the old house and building a new one,…

    doing the same with the barns,…

    and all the equipment,…

    and buying the biggest, most impressive, expensive pickup truck you could find,…

    in the belief that you’d be SO much happier,…

    and those new barns and that new equipment would make your farm so much more productive,…

    that you’d have no trouble paying off that mortgage,…

    when the reality is,…

    you’d lose the farm that your parents and grandparents handed down to you,…

    and your livelihood,…

    to the bankers who were only too happy to give you that mortgage in the first place,…

    but that same approach to State Government is supposed to be OK?

    We who have lived in rural areas have ALL known farmers and small business owners that did this to themselves,…

    often when a new generation took charge, ignored the future and spent themselves into bankruptcy because they felt like mom and dad were stupid to be so careful and cautious,…

    and their kids knew better and deserved better stuff than they could realistically afford.

    Of course they were likely to be Tea Party Republican types,…

    and spend the rest of their lives blaming their loss of everything on “big government,” “high taxes” and “government regulation.”

    My question to my Rural Republican friends and neighbors is this:

    when are you going to stop electing people who,…

    because they think they deserve whatever they want,…

    are unwilling to do the math necessary to even consider if they can afford what they think they deserve,…

    and can’t bear to look in the mirror for the source of the problems they’re creating,…

    REFUSE to see the mess they’re making,…

    then, when that mess arrives, are determined to blame someone else,…

    and, determined to punish those OTHERS whom they blame for their problems,…

    even if that means damaging and destroying everything about our State (and local) Government(s) that makes the rest of our lives work?

    If we allow Republican legislators to continue to pursue this dysfunctional approach to solving their problems, they’ll impoverish our entire state,…

    make it lousy place to live and work,…

    AND a lousy place to do business,…

    and STILL never be able to look in the mirror,…

    look themselves in the eye,…

    and say, “I guess I screwed this up pretty bad.”

    There HAVE to be better, more functional, more capable individuals out here in Rural Minnesota than the current crop of Rural Republicans in the legislature,….

    who resemble nothing so much as a field in which the crop:…

    functional, stable, useful, state government, which carefully considers how best to meet the needs of the citizens of the state and move into the future on solid footing,…

    has been so completely overrun by every kind of noxious weed,…

    (can’t or won’t do math, magical thinking Republicans who don’t even NOTICE that the budget number they present on charts in public have math errors that most 4th graders would catch,)…

    that harvesting that crop becomes impossible.

    Meanwhile those “weeds” think they’re going to go out and run their next campaigns proclaiming that the CROP was the enemy,…

    and if the noxious weeds had only been allowed to have the field to themselves,…

    wonderful things would have happened,….

    and they think their constituents are to stupid to realize that the crop was lost because of those “weeds,”….

    and that all you get when you let “weeds” take over is nothing but MORE weeds.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/12/2015 - 10:56 am.

      Nope

      Completely off the mark and not based in reality.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/12/2015 - 11:55 am.

        Not really

        Outstate wants many things as long as they don’t pay the freight.

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/12/2015 - 04:00 pm.

          Metro area wants all the benefits but to spread the expense.

          • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/12/2015 - 04:30 pm.

            Spread what expense?

            Who do you think pays for their benefits and much of outstate benefits? 7 county metro and Rochester

          • Submitted by jason myron on 05/12/2015 - 07:22 pm.

            To use a metaphor that consevatives love to trot out

            The out-state “takers” are riding in the proverbial cart pulled by the producers…in this case, the metro.

            • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/13/2015 - 10:28 am.

              producers

              This is where you are off the mark completely. You act as if rural MN does not contribute a fair share to the economy of MN and should receive nothing. That is completely false. The metro centric thinking is why there is animosity between the metro folks and the rest of MN. If outstate MN is going to be cut from an equal share of the benefits then maybe the metro should be cut from an equal share of things in outstate MN.

  4. Submitted by Roger Clegg on 05/12/2015 - 09:13 am.

    No to Automatic Felon Voting

    If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison — let alone before they have even served out their probation/parole, as the pending bill would do. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. Read more about this issue on our website here [ http://www.ceousa.org/voting/voting-news/felon-voting/538-answering-the-challenges-to-felon-disenfranchisement ] and our congressional testimony here: [ http://judiciary.house.gov/_files/hearings/pdf/Clegg100316.pdf ].

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/12/2015 - 10:56 am.

      It’s Always Interesting to Hear

      such a good friend of the private prison industry,…

      and thus one with such a strong INTEREST in making sure as many felons “walk back in” to prison as possible,…

      weigh in on policies that are likely to have the OPPOSITE effect,…

      as if he were an unbiased, objective outside observer,…

      speaking on the side of truth and justice.

      But I’m NOT buying it.

  5. Submitted by Richard O on 05/12/2015 - 11:57 am.

    “The 12-count indictment accuses Miller and MIC of Transportation to wholesalers and retail pharmacies in nearly 40 states. ”

    Beg pardon, but is there something missing from this sentence?

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